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What would be the punishment/penalty for sexual harassment at work?

Concord, CA |
Filed under: Sexual harassment

I hugged a person and asked for a kiss for couple of times which is negated by the person. So I released her and left the place....This is reported as sexual harassment and what would be the punishment/penalty for this action?

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

I can only address the potential civil consequences of the conduct. The unconsented touching and request for a kiss is clearly inappropriate conduct in the workplace. As to consequences, there are several possible:

1. You may get fired, or disciplined in some way, and you may be required to go through remedial training on sexual harassment in the workplace. The employer must make a record of dealing with a harasser appropriately to avoid future large exposure if you or another engages in similar conduct.

2. You may get your employer sued. If you are a supervisor, either direct or indirect, of this employee, your actions create strict liability for the employer. If the conduct rises to the level of "severe or pervasive" your employer can be liable to the employee under several theories.

3. You may get sued personally. A harasser in the workplace can be sued individually for the harassment that is done by him or her. This gives the employee the right to sue you directly for money damages, including the employee's attorney fees, expert fees and costs, along with punitive damages. In addition to harassment, the unconsented touching and request for kisses might also be used to state a claim for battery and assault, an intentional tort against you personally, also giving the employee the right to seek emotional distress and punitive damages against you.

4. Your ability to get your next job might be adversely effected. If you are terminated for this conduct, it is possible that when a future potential employer contacts your present employer for a reference, the present employer can truthfully tell the potential employer that you were terminated for alleged sexual harassment of a co-worker.

Sexually harassing another in the workplace is a very serious offense. It has very serious civil repercussions, and potential criminal exposure. It is NEVER appropriate to hug a person and request a kiss in the workplace, unless it is your wife or child. Consider that a VERY bright line.

Good luck to you.

This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed only through the mutual execution of an attorney-client agreement. The answer given is based on the extremely limited facts provided and the proper course of action might change significantly with the introduction of other facts. All who read this answer should not rely on the answer to govern their conduct. Please seek the advice of competent counsel after disclosing all facts to that attorney. This answer is intended for California residents only. The answering party is only licensed to practice in the State of California.

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Asker

Posted

Thank you very much for your detailed response...What could the amount that could be sought under damages?

Neil Pedersen

Neil Pedersen

Posted

That is an almost impossible question to answer because I do not know how the employee was injured. Generally, an employee subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace is entitled to financial losses caused by the harassment, emotional distress, punitive damages and attorney fees. The financial losses will depend on whether the harassment caused any kind of adverse employment action. For instance, if she quit to get away from you, the financial losses can be substantial because if she could prove that any reasonable employee would have quit under the circumstances she was under, then her claim will be considered a termination claim, meaning she would be entitled to the difference between what she was earning at the prior company, less the amount she eventually will earn at a new company, and the entire shortfall in between. Emotional distress damages are very difficult to predict. I have seen sexual harassment emotional distress damages as high as $1million. Six figures is not way out of line. It really depends on how the jury sees this changed the plaintiff's life. The jury is not given any tables or guidelines about how much to award. Frankly, the more angry the jury, the greater the ED award becomes. Punitive damages are generally limited to a small multiplier of the compensatory damages (financial and ED damages). A general rule of thumb is between 1 to 4 times the compensatory damages, if awarded. Attorney fee exposure, through trial of a matter like this can be anywhere from $50K to well into the six-figures because the attorneys are statutorily allowed to ask for all of the fees they incurred prosecuting the case, plus a multiplier of those monies to reflect the risk and deferred nature of their fee agreement. This multiplier is usually a number between 1.0 to 2.0 times the fees actually incurred. As you can see, this kind of claim can be quite substantial.

Posted

It depends- the victim could file a criminal charge od assault by contact, which is usually a misdemeanor. There is also a possibility of the victim filing a civil claim against you for assault. You should go visit with an employment law attorney in California and get legal advice.

If this information has been helpful, please indicate below. I hope my information is helpful to you. If you think this post was a good answer, please click the "Good Answer" button below and/or designate my answer as the "BEST ANSWER". Thanks. This is a general response to a question for basic information and is not legal advice. Legal advice can only be given when all of the facts of your situation are discussed with a lawyer, which we have not done.. If you reside outside the State of Texas please understand that the laws may be different from the laws that I may cite in a my comment. This comment is not to be construed as legal advice to your particular situation because there are many factors that influence legal counseling- this is simply a comment. Response to an email does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the Law Offices of Kevin R. Madison, P.C., nor any of its attorneys. If you send us an e-mail, or call us, and we do not already represent you, neither your e-mail inquiry nor telephone call will create an attorney-client relationship. E-mails cannot necessarily be treated as privileged or confidential. Only entering into a written legal services contract with the Law Offices of Kevin R. Madison, P.C. will create an attorney-client relationship. There is no substitute for one-on-one legal advice and you are urged to meet with an attorney and discuss your case, personally, with an attorney in the state in which you reside or your case occurred. Thank you. Kevin R. Madison. Visit our website at www.kevinmadison.com and www.texassexualharassmentattorney.com. Kevin Madison, Austin, Texas- representing injured persons in motor vehicle collision, truck and motorcucle accidents and representing victims of sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual abuse, physical assaults, and representing victims of sexual exploitation committed by doctors, therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, clergy, counselors, priests, and rabbis. Visit our sexual harassment/sexual exploitation blog at http://texassexualharassmentattorney.com/blog/

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Asker

Posted

Thanks for the response. Would there be any chance of detention in prison

Posted

From what you describe it could result in you being terminated but, it doesn't sound like it rises to the level of criminal conduct for which you could be prosecuted.

Nothing in this communication should be construed as creating an attorney client relationship. This is for informational purposes only. Attorney will take no action on your behalf unless and until a written retainer agreement is signed. There are strict time deadlines on filing claims and, as such, you are advised to consult with and retain an attorney immediately to file such claims timely or you will lose any right to recovery.

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Asker

Posted

Thanks for the response...Already my employment is termiated

Kevin Rindler Madison

Kevin Rindler Madison

Posted

I agree with but I do think there is a small possibility of a criminal "assault by contact" charge

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